As your windows age, they begin to lose their ability to protect you from the elements. It can also leave you with a hole in your wallet thanks to high energy bills. Discover how installing energy-efficient windows in your home can not only improve your comfort level but save you hundreds of dollars in energy savings
What Are Energy Efficient Windows?
Energy-efficient is a pretty common buzzword in the building industry. So how do you know the windows you are getting meet energy efficiency standards? Quality materials, paired with the latest high-efficiency windows technology mean lower energy consumption. Before choosing an energy-efficient window, make sure it comes with an energy rating. This will certify you are getting the best level of protection for your home.
What Makes a Window Energy-Efficient?
There are several key factors to check for when purchasing windows. These will help determine that you are getting the best energy efficiency out of your windows.
- Window Rating – Several rating factors determine the energy efficiency of a window. These ratings indicate the level of heat protection, light transmittance, and insulation.
- Frame Materials – New windows will have the highest energy efficiency ratings. Vinyl windows offer the best insulation, making them an ideal choice for homes in colder climates. Fibreglass and wood frames also make a smart and affordable option and work well with most older and modern homes.
- Multi-Pane Windows – Some homeowners may remember when windows were a single pane of glasses. Today, smart homeowners know that the best energy efficiency comes from double or triple-pane glass. The triple-pane windows price is moderately higher than double-pane glass, it does provide up to 20% more energy efficiency.
Your window installation expert can help you determine which frame and window combination will best suit your energy efficiency needs and help you create a home that is comfortable all year round.
Energy Efficiency is determined using several ratings that indicate how well the window will protect your home from the cold and heat. One of the most common ratings is the U-Factor. This is determined by the window rating which usually falls between 0.20 and 1.20. The lower the rating, the better the insulation.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)
Like the U-Factor, the solar heat gain coefficient measures the energy efficiency of a window. In this case, it measures how much heat from the sun comes through the window. This is measured on a scale of 0 to 1 with lower ratings being deemed more energy efficient.
Visible transmittance determines how much sunlight is transmitted through a window or skylight. Visible transmittance is the visible spectrum of sunlight and falls between 380 to 720 nanometers. Similar to the solar heat gain coefficient, visible transmittance is measured between 0 and 1.
The energy rating of your windows determines the level of heat and cold protection your window can provide. This is calculated by balancing the U-Factor with the solar heat gain and airtightness. Energy ratings fall between 0 to 50, with a higher rating indicating a more energy-efficient window.
Quality & Efficient Window Frame Materials
When installing new windows, it is important to ensure your window frame is in good condition. Over time window frames can rot and warp causing gaps, leading to drafts and poor energy efficiency. Today’s modern window frame technology ensures homeowners experience the highest level of comfort and energy efficiency. Choosing the right window frame can help you enjoy the most energy-efficient windows. Some of the most energy-efficient window options include:
- Aluminum or Metal Frames – This type of frame is strong and easy to maintain. However, they conduct heat quickly, making them a bad choice if you want to improve your insulation. To prevent excessive heat conduction, it is important to use a thermal break or insulated plastic strip between the frame and sash.
- Composite Frames – Made from composite wood products like particleboard, polymer plastics and laminated strand lumber, this type of frame provides effective energy efficient protection against structural and thermal heat and cold. They also offer advanced moisture and decay resistance giving your window frames a longer life and enhancing the energy efficiency of your windows.
- Fibreglass Frames – One of the most popular frames in home construction, fibreglass frames provide exceptional protection and thermal performance. Fibreglass windows have air pockets that allow for additional insulation providing even more comfort and protection against the cold and heat.
- Vinyl Frames – Vinyl frames provide excellent protection and insulation. They offer a strong moisture barrier thanks to polyvinyl chloride paired with ultraviolet light stabilizers which prevent the material from breaking down due to sun exposure.
- Wood Frames – Wood frames provide adequate protection against heat and cold. They are not as energy efficient as other window frames and require regular maintenance. Your window installation expert can help you determine which cladding best suits your wooden window frame to ensure a higher thermal performance.
I’ve Heard the Term Low-E Glass. What Exactly Is That?
Low emission or low e-coatings add a layer of protection helping your home to retain heat in the winter and prevent scorching temperatures from making you uncomfortable in the summer. This coating can be paired with double or triple pane glasses creating an effective energy-efficient barrier. It consists of microscopic metal or metal oxide layers that are deposited onto the surface of the pane of glass. Do-it-yourself options are available and can provide 10 to 15 years of protection against fabric fading and other sun damage.
E-coatings like spectrally selective coatings can filter out between 40% and 70% of heat while allowing full light transmission. These coatings are designed to reflect wavelengths and are most often used to reflect infrared heat. They are an optimal choice for homeowners looking for a low U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient while providing high visible transmittance.
What Is the Difference Between R-Value and U-Value?
Like solar heat gain and visible transmittance, the U-value and R-value can also provide insight into a window’s level of energy efficiency.
U-value determines how well insulated a pane of glass is against heat and cold. It is measured between 0.1 and 1.0 through the number of BTUs that pass through each square foot of the window, per degree of temperature.
A low U-value indicates there is better insulation performance. U-value is determined by dividing 1 by the R-value.
R-value determines how well the overall building performs against heat and cold in areas such as walls, the roof, and floors. A high R-value indicates there is better thermal resistance. R-value is calculated by dividing 1 by the U-value figure.
Do Energy-Efficient Windows Increase Home Value?
Replacing your existing windows with energy-efficient ones will increase your home’s value significantly. Even replacing a few windows can increase your home’s market value. Not only do they add curb appeal but potential buyers know that they are purchasing a home with lower energy bills and exceptional comfort all year long. It is estimated that a home’s market value can increase by up to $12,000 depending on square footage and the number of windows replaced. This value has also proven to remain stable due to the long life of energy-efficient windows. Most energy-efficient windows can last up to 25 years, meaning a quarter-century of comfort and energy savings.
Though it may seem like a significant purchase, most homeowners experience a return on investment of more than 70% with an energy savings of up to 12% each year. Energy-efficient windows don’t just save you money, they put money in your pocket over time.
What Is a Gas-Filled Window?
When you layer double or triple pane windows, the space in between is filled with a clear gas which helps to block heat and cold from penetrating the window. The gas is odourless, colourless, and does not obstruct the view through the window. The two most common gasses used are Krypton which can be used in smaller spaces less than ¼ inch. The second option is Argon which can be used in spaces of ½ inch. These gases can be mixed to provide a higher level of thermal performance. The layers of glass, separated by gases and sealed create an energy-efficient barrier that prevents heat and cold from transferring through the glass.
Contact Winmax today for a free estimate on your energy-efficient window installation project. Before beginning your energy-efficient window installation, the friendly and professional team of experts at Winmax can help you choose the right windows for your home’s energy needs.
We will review the window’s energy star rating so you can feel confident you are getting a window that will provide you with exceptional energy efficiency and cost savings.
Will will look at the U-Factor, solar heat gain coefficient, and other energy rating factors to ensure you experience the highest level of comfort. Finally, we will provide a professional and expert installation that protects your home from the elements.
We look forward to helping you enjoy a more energy-efficient home.